2020 was a long, hard year, and it was a quiet one for Elden Ring. After revealing it at E3 2019, FromSoftware has gone quiet, laboring away in secret on its next action-RPG. We know Elden Ring is still coming, but we didn't get a new trailer or screenshot or snippet of concept art in all of 2020. And now that 2021 is here, we expect we'll still have months to wait before we even catch a glimpse of Elden Ring.
So what is it? Here's the gist of what we know: FromSoftware CEO (and game director) Hidetaka Miyazaki says Elden Ring will have an open world "ripe for exploration," but we should expect the Souls DNA to be very much intact. The game world and lore aren't entirely FromSoft's own creation, this time around. Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin collaborated with the game developers early on to help create the setting. That means it's almost certainly going to be bleak as hell, and we're already looking forward to the flavor text.
FromSoftware has said little about how its typically compact world designs will translate to an open world, or whether Souls staples like online invasions and summoning will still be included. Hopefully those questions and many more are answered in 2021.
Here's everything we know so far about FromSoftware's upcoming open world RPG.
FromSoftware hinted that Elden Ring is still a ways away
Fans were hoping Elden Ring would make an appearance at The Game Awards in December 2020, but sadly there was no new trailer or demo to end the Elden Ring drought. However, Elden Ring did win an award at the show for "Most Anticipated Game," and FromSoftware acknowledged the win on Twitter with a thank you... and a hint that the game is still a ways off.
It seems the world might not be mended for a while yet, but please take care of yourselves and enjoy the New Year in good spirits and good health. See you in 2021.December 30, 2020
"It seems the world might not be mended for awhile yet" is a reference to the Souls series. Our takeaway: Best case, Elden Ring isn't here until the end of 2021.
When is Elden Ring's release date?
FromSoftware didn't mention a release date with the announcement trailer for Elden Ring. Given that FromSoft is collaborating with George R.R. Martin, we just hope that whatever curse is preventing him from finishing The Winds of Winter won't transfer its bad energy to Elden Ring. We'd like to play it before the end of time.
We know that Elden Ring has been in development since Dark Souls 3's DLC wrapped up, but it could have been put on the backburner during Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's development. With 2020 over with no serious Elden Ring news to speak of, it looks like we're still in for a long wait.
Here's Elden Ring's announcement trailer
Elden Ring's announcement trailer is certainly full of atmosphere if not answers. The voiceover from the announcement trailer is pretty on point for a FromSoftware game: All mystery and doom without any hard details.
"I doubt you could even imagine it. That which commanded the skies, giving life its fullest brilliance. The Elden Ring. Shattered, by someone or something. Don't tell me you don't see it. Look up at the sky. It burns."
Here's the leaked trailer for Elden Ring
It's extremely low video quality, but this group of clips from what's reportedly an Elden Ring trailer surfaced in March. There are quite a lot of familiar Souls series features present like large bosses, dodge rolling, backstabbing, and spellcasting,. It sure does look like what we'd expect from a new FromSoftware game. One thing that does appear to be new is combat while on horseback. That said, we don't know for sure how old this trailer is and whether it represents Elden Ring's current direction.
Like the original reveal trailer, it has some cryptic voiceover that says "I can only imagine what drives you to seek the Elden Ring. I suppose you can’t be talked into turning back. Very well then!"
Phil Spencer has played "quite a bit" of Elden Ring
When you're the boss of the entire console platform partnered with Elden Ring, that apparently means you can to play an early build. Xbox chief Phil Spencer did, anyway, and he had a lot of nice things to say about it in an interview with Gamespot.
"I've seen actually quite a bit. I've played quite a bit. As somebody who's played all of Miyazaki's games over at least the last decade, this is clearly the most ambitious game that he's done. I mean, y'know, I love his games, but seeing some of the gameplay mechanics stuff that he's tackling, he and the team are tackling this time, [seeing] the setting, working with another creator in terms of story... I love it. I love seeing him challenging himself, he's a good friend of mine, expanding his horizons, I think it's a good thing."
Spencer is a professional, so he expectedly didn't give away anything we didn't already know about the game. Yes yes, Phil, we know it's "ambitious" and bigger than From's previous games, but what about the combat and lore? Ah well, he did share an anecdote about Miyazaki apparently leaving the room during his play session.
"When he has me play, I go over, he has to leave the room. I think that's because I'm a bad player, and then when he comes back we'll have a conversation about things that I think. He's so passionate about what he does. It's one of the things I just love about getting to work with him on some of these games and seeing them come to our platform," Spencer said.
What is Elden Ring's setting?
We don't have a name for wherever Elden Ring takes place yet, nor have we really seen any evidence of the environment from the E3 trailer. It does have some seriously Norse vibes though, and given that they've called in the puppet master of Westeros to collaborate on the world's lore, we think it's safe to assume there will be a lot of grimdark viking influences. Miyakazi has referenced castles when talking about Elden Ring's open world, so we may be in store for a medieval fantasy setting once again.
George R.R. Martin wrote the "overarching mythos"
After Elden Ring's announcement, Miyazaki explained a bit of how GRRM was involved with the project. When they got to work, Miyazaki began by explaining his overall vision to Martin, describing "what sorts of themes, ideas, as well as many game-related aspects" he envisioned.
"This allowed us to have many free and creative conversations regarding the game," said Miyazaki, "in which Mr. Martin later used as a base to write the overarching mythos for the game world itself."
"This mythos proved to be full of interesting characters and drama along with a plethora of mystical and mysterious elements as well," said Miyazaki. "It was a wonderful source of stimulus for me and the development staff. Elden Ring’s world was constructed using this mythos and stimulus as a base. Even I myself find it hard to contain my excitement from time to time. We hope that everyone else is looking forward to the world we have created."
Elden Ring is FromSoftware's "biggest title yet in terms of sheer volume"
Miyazaki says that the world of Elden Ring will be "ripe for exploration." He confirms that it will take place in an open world which he refers to as a large open field to play in. While Dark Souls is relatively unrestricted in how it allows you to explore, it sounds like Elden Ring will be even moreso.
Despite being open world, Elden Ring is still a From-style game. Rather than villages bustling with NPCs that we may expect of a game like The Witcher 3, Elden Ring will stay away from a lively open world in favor of a grim one. "Creating a new type of game is a big challenge for us," Miyazaki told IGN. "If we would add towns on top of that, it would become a bit too much, so we decided to create an open world style game focused on what we are best at.” He says you'll be able to traverse Elden Ring on horseback.
Miyakazi also calls out some of the environments we may find in Elden Ring's big open field. "Among those areas, you will also find intricately designed, multi-layered castles and such." From his IGN interview, Miyazaki says players can expect ruins and other environments similar to FromSoftware's past games.
What will Elden Ring's gameplay be like?
We have yet to see any of Elden Ring's gameplay, but the FromSoftware Twitter account calls it an Action RPG, as does Miyazaki, which should come as no surprise. In his interview, Miyakazi says that Elden Ring will focus more heavily on RPG elements, meaning that the Action RPG pendulum is probably swinging back towards Dark Souls territory and away from the flirtation with action that we saw in Sekiro.
In the Bandai Namco interview, Miyazaki also confirms that big-time boss fights are still a major part of From Software's recipe. "Boss fights are something we enjoy making and make up one of the climaxes to this title as well. We feel there is a wide variety of unique and horrifying bosses for players to look forward to."
Who will the protagonist be in Elden Ring?
Unlike Sekiro, which had a named protagonist, Elden Ring moves back towards the Dark Souls formula of creating a character in traditional RPG fashion. This may mean that instead of a strictly-defined protagonist, we'll play as a character who fits a particular role like "chosen undead" or "ashen one."
Okay but will there be a poison swamp?
FromSoftware's track record suggests that there will definitely have to be a poisonous swamp. That hasn't been confirmed at all, but it won't stop us from trying to figure out where in norse mythology Miyazaki might be able to squeeze in the Souls series' favorite locale.
Dark Souls 3's composer is working on Elden Ring
It doesn't come as a huge surprise to hear that veteran From Software composer Yuka Kitamura is also working on Elden Ring. Kitamura was also involved in Sekiro and Dark Souls 3.
After changing her Twitter handle to her professional name (instead of her favorite Golden Sun character) a fan asked Kitamura if she's working on Elden Ring. Good news, she is!
George R.R. Martin got involved because Miyazaki is a huge fan
While we don't know much about the mark that G.R.R.M is going to leave on this new world, we do know even Miyazaki is excited by it. He calls himself a huge fan of Martin's work and has been known to recommend some of Martin's books to new employees.
"The actual collaboration itself begun with Mr. Martin ever so politely confirming what sorts of themes, ideas as well as many game-related aspects I had envisioned for the game," Miyazaki said.
"Even I myself find it hard to contain my excitement from time to time. We hope that everyone else is looking forward to the world we have created."
Fans are inventing fake lore on Reddit to entertain themselves
Technically this is just a bunch of things we don't know about Elden Ring, but we're just as hungry for information as you are. As spotted by Polygon, Redditors on the Elden Ring subreddit have been busy since the game's announcement waiting for new information by just downright making up their own. In an impressive act of extremely meta group roleplaying, Reddit users have invented characters and bosses and areas that sound like they could absolutely be a part of a viking-themed FromSoftware game.
They have invented Glaive Master Hodir and a slew of memes related to being beaten by him. They've visited the entirely fictional Serpent's Fjord. One user confirms that there is, thank goodness, a poison swamp area.